Wednesday, June 30, 2010
On this date in 1993, the Detroit Red Wings acquired Kris Draper from the Winnipeg Jets for "future considerations".
"We ended up giving them a buck," said Red Wings executive Jim Devellano. "Doug MacLean actually did that deal," Devellano recalls. "He was our assistant general manager at the time, and he was running our farm team at Adirondack. Doug knew Draper was a good minor-leaguer. So Draper went to Adirondack fro three-quarters of a year and then came up to us."
In a most unusual career path, Draper, then age 18, played for the Canadian National Team in 1988-89 and 1989-90 for two full seasons of 60 and 62 games, which included two trips to the World Junior Championships. Following his first season with the National Team, Draper was drafted at the end of Round 3, 62nd overall, by the Winnipeg Jets.
The next season he played seven games for the Moncton Hawks of the AHL, made his NHL debut with three games for the Jets and then, after having already played in the AHL and NHL, made his junior hockey debut with the Ottawa 67's of the OHL, the exact opposite of the normal feeder system path taken by 99.9% of all players.
He spent the next two seasons with Moncton while squeezing in 10 games with the Jets in 1991-92 and seven in 1992-93. Having now played only 20 NHL games in the four years since he was drafted, he was considered an expendable minor-leaguer and sent to the Red Wings in return for one dollar - not even enough to purchase a new puck.
The Red Wings sent him to their top minor league affiliate in Adirondack, also in the AHL, for 46 games to start the 1993-94 season before he was called up for the second half of the season by Detroit, scoring 13 points in 39 games 0n a checking line with Kirk Maltby and either Joey Kocur or Darren McCarty. This began a long term relationship with the Red Wings, as Draper filled a vital, if less glamourous, role on the Red Wings roster at a time when the Red Wings, under the leadership of coach Scotty Bowman, who arrived the same season as Draper, evolved from first playoff exits to championship contender.
Never expected to be a goal scorer, it would take Draper nine seasons with Detroit until he would score even 30 points, and to date has but one season (2003-04) in which he reached 40 exactly, which included the only 20 goal season of his career when he netted 24, nine more than his next highest. And what was Draper's reward for the best offensive season of his career? Being named with winner of the Selke Trophy for the Best Defensive Forward of the year.
After a loss in the finals in 1995 and the confrence finals in 1996, Detroit won their first Stanley Cup in 42 years in 1997. Following the championship, Draper gave the Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Illitch a dollar and said, "Here you go. Investment paid in full!"
The Red Wings would go back to back by taking the title again in 1998. In Bowman's last year at the helm, Detroit won it all again in 2002 and returned to the finals again in 2008 to win the fourth Stanley Cup of Draper's career.
He has now become only the 5th player in Red Wings history to play in 1,000 games and his longevity has enabled him to move into the top 25 scorers in club history despite his modest annual point totals. He currently sits at #23 with 350 points. His 212 playoff games are second all-time to Nicklas Lidstrom's 247.
Not a bad investment for a dollar.
Draper is also a eager to play for Team Canada when possible. Despite the limited opportunities to compete in the World Championships due to the Red Wings frequent long runs deep into the playoffs, Draper has skated for Canada in the World Championships in 2000, 2001, 2003 when he earned a gold medal, and 2005, earning a silver medal, whenever the Red Wings suffered an unexpectedly early playoff exit when many players would chose to stay home following the long grind of an NHL season and the disappointment of a first round playoff defeat.
He was also chosen as a member of the championship winning team at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
Today's featured jersey is a 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings Kris Draper jersey as worn during the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002 when the Red Wings defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in five games to capture the third of four Stanley Cups of Draper's career to date. This jersey features the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals patch, worn annually by the two teams who square off for the Championship in the final series.
In our first video today, Kris Draper gets a day with the Stanley Cup.
Here, Draper is interviewed on the occasion of his 1,000th game in a Red Wings uniform.
Finally, Drapers in interviewed in the locker room immediately after winning his fourth Stanley Cup in 2008.